OWENSBORO, Ky. (8/6/13) – It’s a quiet Thursday morning at the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra as newly hired Executive Director Karen Miller Porter steps out of her office for a moment to ask a staff member to collect a set of fliers with general information about upcoming events about the symphony’s new season before sitting down to talk with SurfKY News about the new position.
Porter worked as the executive director of the Owensboro/Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau until her retirement earlier this year. As she sat down for the Aug. 1 interview, she was quick to point out it was her first “official” day on the job and that she was still learning about the symphony’s day-to-day operations. But her admission of a “learning curve” about the local symphony is one of the things that drew her to the job.
“I’m coming into this as a ‘newbie,’ but I’m not scared to learn,” she said. “I love to work with people who have passion. This is a turning point for me.”
Porter joked about how quickly she took a job after retiring from the CVB, but said it was a completely unexpected opportunity that was too good to pass up.
“I truly had an expectation I was going to be retired longer than this,” Porter said, explaining that the OSO approached her about the job. “It sounded like a great opportunity. (The OSO) has a great reputation. As I looked into it, I got more and more excited.
“It had to be a pretty good opportunity to get me out of retirement,” she added.
Porter said the executive director position fit perfectly with her post-retirement goals, to continue to be involved in the community and to have more flexibility in her schedule so she could spend time with her family. The position also gives her the opportunity to bring her experience and strengths from her years with the CVB to help the OSO grow.
“The symphony is so important to economic development,” she said. “It’s a calling card. It provides a drawing to the community… symphonies and orchestras have not been successful nationally.”
She said the fact that the OSO has been a successful organization was part of what attracted her to the job.
“It’s important to Owensboro,” she said of the symphony. “There were a lot of things that were very encouraging.”
Porter said one of the things she is looking forward to the most is working with the conductor, Maestro Nicholas Palmer.
Her job details include finding new ways to “encourage more people to be subscribers” and supporters of the 80-member OSO. She said she will be working to implement “focus groups” in the community to generate new ideas on how to do that. Including younger people in those groups is part of the plan.
The OSO season starts Sept. 21, and kicks off the season with its annual “Concert on the Lawn” on Aug. 17 at Kentucky Wesleyan College. More information about the Motown-theme concert is available on our event page.
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